Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Nintendo DS Lite

gaming, photos & tech 3 min read

So i got my new Nintendo DS Lite (in Crystal White, naturally). Read on for a few initial thoughts (and a couple of pics).

First up, go take a look at the pics I took a little while ago; you can see them all here. Sorry there are only 7; I wanted to write this post and play the damn thing instead of taking a whole bunch of photos. If there’s interest and/or any special requests, I’ll happily shoot some more this week.

So, on to my thoughts. In no particular order, here are some observations I’ve made since I brought this baby home tonight:

  • The screen. Oh god, the screen. Loading up Animal Crossing on this thing was like playing the sequel; the colours just explode at you. You'll notice the difference immediately, before you even get past the "health and safety" screen. My Lite was set to brightness level 2 by default, and that's pretty much perfect for me. Cabel was right to say that playing on the highest brightness level could actually kill you. Good to know it can go brighter, but... damn. The screens on this thing are gorgeous. You absolutely must get one, for the brightness and colour saturation alone.
  • The d-pad seems a little more sensitive/twitchy, perhaps slightly too much so, but then this is my first ever hour of using the machine. I'm sure I'll settle into it readily enough.
  • The power switch (now at the rear of the right side of the unit) is spring loaded; you push it towards the rear of the Lite to turn the power on or off, and it then springs back towards the front edge itself.
  • The stylus is way, way better. I don't have the largest hands in the world, but it's much more comfortable. The new position for the holder (on the bottom of the unit on the right side, about 40% of the way from the front edge) is far easier to access without looking too. You get a spare stylus in the box, just as with the regular DS.
  • The power connector looks identical to mini-USB, except for the outer metal sheath being a very, very slightly different shape. I've already ordered a USB charger cable to use with it.
  • The included Jap AC adapter is really small; literally the size of a pack of tic-tacs. The 2-prong plug can be folded back into the main body of the adapter for storage.
  • The volume slider (same location as on the regular DS) is noticeably better too. On my DS I found that I'd get little response from the slider then suddenly get a large change in volume, leading me to have to adjust it up and then carefully back down a bit. The DS Lite's volume slider has a nice constant action to it (even though it has a small amount of in-out movement, and thus can rattle very slightly when you're moving it).
  • The main buttons are far nicer than on the regular DS; they have that great (S)NES-style clicky feel to them. The regular DS buttons are slightly mushy by comparison. The DS Lite's L/R buttons are ninja-clicky. Tiny amount of travel, then a sharp little click; great for switching to missiles in Metroid Fusion (that's not just hypothetically, either).
  • Start/Select are very clicky, and tiny too. You couldn't press them by accident; they have quite a lot of travel before they click and activate. This seems in keeping with how DS games very rarely use these buttons for anything important. It feels to me like Nintendo are de-emphasising them.
  • The wrist-strap (white, naturally) no longer has the little thumb-dimple thing attached to it. I used it precisely twice, both times when playing Mario 64. I won't miss it.
  • The specs say (as far as I recall) that the Lite is only about 20% lighter than the DS; believe me, you immediately feel the difference. It's actually seems a little too small to hold at first, but I find that keeping a lot of space between the main body of the unit and my hands, and keeping my index fingers resting on the back of the top half of it (just above the L/R buttons) gives a really comfortable holding position. To me right now, it seems to weigh almost nothing.

All of which means, yes, I’m going to keep it. I bought it from, and I can very highly recommend them. Ordered on Sunday afternoon, and I had it at the office by 9:30 am this morning (Tuesday). Check out eBay for some bargains too, naturally. Regarding accessories, I’ve bought (on eBay today) a USB charger cable, an Airform case (ceramic white, natch), and US copies of Metroid Prime: Hunters (for me) and Brain Training (for Lauren, even though I’m the one who probably needs it).

And yes, Lauren now has my original DS. We met at Chips on my way home from work tonight and bought a second copy of Animal Crossing, and she’s already moved into CuteTown. I believe she’s recently finished her initial round of errands for Tom Nook, and both our DSes are on our AirPort network here.

That’ll just about do it for now, I think. The take-home message for tonight is: get a DS Lite; really. Import it if you like; it runs games from any region, and the firmware can be set to English without any trouble. It’s a genuinely beautiful machine, and for once it’s from Nintendo rather than Apple. At last there’s a handheld that I’m not ashamed to put in the same bag as my PowerBook.